Dialect quiz and excellent parody thereof

In 2013, the New York Times provided an interactive dialect quiz/map that asked you a bunch of questions about what you call things, and then said where it thought you were from.

I’ve seen dialect surveys and maps before, but I hadn’t previously seen one that figures out where you’re from based on your choices. Neat idea. It seemed to be fairly good at it, too; I think most of my friends said it had correctly named where they were from and/or had spent formative years.

When I took it, the little maps it showed along the way seemed to be either all-blue or mostly-red, so I thought it was going to get me wrong; also, I wasn’t sure how to answer the several questions where my answers have changed due to exposure to other people’s speech patterns. (A lot of my vocabulary for such things came from my parents, who grew up in the Seattle area and the Philadelphia area. And I went to college near Philadelphia and got roundly mocked for some of my pronunciations, so I changed some of them, notably “bury” and “crayon.”)

But I ended up going mostly with what my answers would’ve been as a kid, and I was surprised that in the end it pretty much had me pegged, geographically. It gave my three most-similar-to-my-dialect cities as Santa Rosa, Sacramento, and San Francisco. I’ve never lived near Sacramento, but I lived in and near Santa Rosa as a kid, and have lived in the greater SF Bay Area nearly all my life.

I took it again, to answer some questions differently and see what happened, and was surprised to see that the questions were in a different order, and that some of the questions were entirely different. I guess it must pick randomly from a bigger set of questions.

Several of the terms from other parts of the country were, of course, mildly amusing to me. I think the one that amused me the most was “Peenie wallie” for fireflies.

But what really amused me was that not long after that quiz swept through social media, the New Yorker supplied a very entertaining parody that made me laugh a lot. (Slightly NSFW.)

The parody is probably funny even if you haven’t taken the original quiz. But it’s probably a lot funnier if you have.

One Response to “Dialect quiz and excellent parody thereof”

  1. KTO

    Peenie wallie?!


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